“You only need sit still long enough in some attractive spot in the woods that all its inhabitants may exhibit themselves to you by turns.” H.D. Thoreau
With fondness, I recall exploring the wilder areas along the levee, woods, lakes and fields of the Mississippi Delta during my early years. When most children would still be sleeping, I would tip-toe into the kitchen and leave a note to my parents – then strike out in search of my horse. On horseback and other times on foot, I often made my own trail – depending on the whims of each day.
On a hot summer day I might ride my horse into the deep woods and sit beneath a grand old tree. I don’t remember having profound thoughts – I just visually soaked in the surroundings and merged with the peace and beauty of wherever I stopped. Sometimes I rode ‘back in the fields’ where the persimmon trees grew – or along the lower bogs that drained the higher areas. Discovering an explosion of yellow wildflowers intermingled with cat-tails, I wove those small aquatic flowers into my horse’s bridle then resumed my journey. Even when young I rejoiced in seeing new species.
After describing one particularly-exotic flower to our neighbor, I learned its name: “Maypop,” and he – a mentor to me – always took time to satisfy my curiosity. “When I was young,” he smiled, “we liked to stomp on the ripe fruit – and they popped!”
I never saw the ripe fruits, but now I live where that delicate flower has a monster cousin: passion fruit, called maracuya in Ecuador. With a rich unique aroma and quite-tart flavor, maracuya is popular (and affordable) for juices and desserts. (Do you think that those Mississippi Maypops produce an edible fruit as well?) I have veered far from my original GPS location, but that childlike curiosity remains intact! Continue reading